Hep A vaccine urged for Putnam food workers

May 26, 2018 GMT

CHARLESTON — Hepatitis A vaccination clinics will be held for restaurant and food service employees in Kanawha and Putnam counties in response to a recent outbreak of the virus both locally and nationally. Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health, recommended that all restaurant and food service business owners have their employees inoculated.

Gupta said national data indicate that drug use among the food service industry is about 19.1 percent.

“Because of the high incidence of drug use reported in West Virginia and among the food industry, this is a proactive measure to vaccinate a high-risk group in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”

Eight food establishments in Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell counties have been identified as having a food service worker confirmed with hepatitis A, but to date, no customer of any of the food establishments impacted thus far have become ill by eating food provided by the facility.

The Kanawha Charleston Health Department will provide mass vaccination clinics on the following dates:

• May 25, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department; 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

• May 30, Charleston Civic Center; 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

• June 1 St. George Conference Center (Court and Lee streets); 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Gupta said the risk of hepatitis A transmission to the general public remains low, but West Virginia “must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the public’s health.”

Statewide, there have been 106 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of hepatitis A, according to DHHR, and most (87 percent) have occurred in Kanawha (59) and Putnam (28) counties. Cabell sits at 10 cases, and Boone, Jackson, Lincoln, Wayne and Wyoming counties having fewer than five cases each.

High risk groups needing the vaccine include persons who use injection and non-injection drugs, persons who are homeless, men who have sex with men, and persons who were incarcerated within the past six weeks.

Young children are routinely recommended for the hepatitis A vaccine beginning at 1 year old. To learn more, visit www.dide.wv.gov.